Jamie Saft is a remarkable musician who has been making a major impact on the New York scene since his return to his hometown in 1993. As a pianist he has played on the records of Dave Douglas, Laurie Anderson, Bad Brains and John Zorn, for whom he has not only held down the keyboards in many bands, but also engineered several important records. For this talk Jamie tells a lot of interesting and hilarious tales from the life of a musician who seen and done a whole hell of a lot.
Trumpeter Peter Evans is without a doubt one of the most talented musicians of his generation. He is equally adept at interpreting complex contemporary music as he is at free improvisation. He has toured the world many times over working with some of the greatest musicians alive. Peter is a virtuoso and this conversation goes to a lot of interesting place. A good talk with a solid cat.
If you don't know Colin Marston, you should. An integral member of essential bands like Dysrythmia, Gorguts and Behold... The Arctopus, Colin is a life-long believer who plays from his heart and stands up for what he believes in. He's a top shelf musician and a studio owner. Many of the records coming out of NYC these days are cut in his studio, The Thousand Caves, and whether working on improv records or intense technical metal, Colin gives it his all. This is a good talk.
Nels Cline is a guitar great in the truest sense of the word. A Los Angeles native, Nels has played with everyone from Julius Hemphill to Time Berne, Mike Watt to Vinny Golia. For the past ten years Nels has been playing guitar in Wilco and has recently relocated to New York. Today's talk is a good one and Nels tells a lot of great stories, from organizing concerts of improvised music in LA in the 80s to jamming with the Dead. This is an essential episode of the 5049 Podcast.
Shayna Dunkelman is a delightful and charming young percussionist who is as at home playing modern versions of exotica as she is tackling the very best of 20th and 21st century new music. She is a native of Tokyo, Japan and came to NYC by way of the Bay Area. She's played with Zeena Parkins, John Zorn, Fred Frith and Willie Winant and is about to release the first record by her band Peptalk. Shayna rules.
Eivind Opsvik is a smooth Norwegian man who has been living and working in New York since 1998. He plays the bass with clarity, precision and lots of feel. When not playing he also runs his own record label, Loyal Label. With both his own music and the label, Eivind has a refined aesthetic that is reflective of an appreciatation for craftsmanship. He's a swell cat and I was happy to talk to him.
Nick Podgurski is a composer, percussionist and vocalist who specializes in a very thoughtful and personal brand of soul searching music. He has sat behind the drumkit for Extra Life, Yukon and most recently, Ava Mendoza's Unnatural Ways. This week he will release his newest solo recording, "Gift of Mithra". Nick's a thoughtful cat and his music is the real thing.
Aram Bajakian is a sweet and soulful cat who specializes in the business of playing from his fucking heart and making music that comes from a real and personal place. I wish that there were more like him. He's spent the last two years playing with Diana Krall and the late, great Lou Reed as well as leading several of his own bands. Aram is the real thing and this is a good talk.
Andrew Hock is an intensely talented young musician who plays from his heart, puts blood into his music and is developing a body of work that is based in intense personal experience. For this one, Andrew and I knocked back a couple of bourbons and got into it. Deep. Dark. Cult.
Shanir Blumenkranz is a deeply soulful cat who has committed himself to a life of music and plays from his heart. He has been in New York for the better part of fifteen years and has been a major contributor to the city's Radical Jewish Culture scene. After appearing on dozens of other people's records, Shanir released his first recording as a leader in 2013, a collection of his arrangements of compositions from John Zorn's Book of Angels. This is a good talk with a solid dude who is doing it for real.
Lea Bertucci is a composer, bass clarinetist and sound artist who now resides in Hudson, New York. She is an interdisciplinary artist and she spent much of her 7+ years in New York City putting on house shows with an emphasis on creating an inviting environment in which excellent music could take place. For this talk, Lea and I discuss her experience as a curator, frustrations with getting ones work heard, and her recent move upstate to have more space and peace in which to create.
Hank Shteamer is a musician and author who has been living in New York City for the better part of fifteen years. He plays drums in the band STATS and is the senior music editor for Time Out New York. For this talk, Hank and I discuss his time at WKCR, adversarial relationships between musicians and critics, and his current campaign to raise funds to reissue the first three records by his favorite band, Craw. A good talk.
Sylvie Courvoisier is a pianist and improviser of stunning virtuosity and precision. Her playing is marked by tremendous technique and an advanced sense of harmony. She has worked closely with Ikue Mori, John Zorn, Mark Feldman, Susie Ibarra and many others. Two weeks ago I traveled to her home in Brooklyn to trace her history from being the daughter of a weekend jazzer in Switzerland to being one of New York's fiercest musicians. Sylvie is the real deal and I am honored that she broke off a couple hours to sit down and get into it with me.
Miguel Frasconi is a unique and very thoughtful musician. His musical roots run deep in the experimental tradition of New York City and his instrument of choice, glass, is a clear reflection of that. After spending many years living on the West Coast, Miguel returned to New York ten years ago to care for a sick parent and to put down some new musical roots. The last few years have been very challenging for him and after a lot personal hardship, he is on the verge of releasing some new and exciting music. This is a great talk that goes to some very touching and personal places.
Ches Smith is an intensely talented drummer and a true road dog. He's been touring for over fifteen years with Secret Chiefs 3,Xiu-Xiu, Tim Berne, Ben Goldberg, Mr Bungle, John Zorn and many others. He's one of the most in demand drummers around and for good reason- he fucking rules. For this talk Ches and I discuss heavy touring, balancing family and music life, and his introduction to Haitian music. This is a good one with a good dude.
Jim Black is a cat. He's been on the scene a long time, playing drums in several of the most important bands to come out of Brooklyn in the past two decades. He's travelled the world and for this episode Jim and I sit down to discuss the state of a crumbling music industry, maintaining long-term relationships both musical and personal, and growing as a musician. This is a good one so strap in.
Ben Goldberg is a clarinetist of astounding virtuosity, depth and sensitivity. His music has had a profound effect on me since first encountering it at age 19 and any chance to hear Ben play is a revelatory experience. For this talk Ben and I go deep, real deep as we discuss the ongoing struggle inherent to playing clarinet, the weight of tradition, and living a balanced life. I couldn't be more proud of how this podcast turned out and I hope that you all get as much out of listening to it as I did making it.
Billy Martin is a world class drummer who has made a name for himself as a founding member of the legendary Medeski Martin & Wood. When not on the road with MMW, Billy keeps busy running his record label, improvising with a broad range of musicians, focusing on his visual art and most recently, composing for film. This talk took place just after New Years on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Billy's house in New Jersey. We cover a lot of ground and I am very grateful to Billy for talking.
Charlie Looker is a special one. Born and raised in New York City, he's been on a very personal and intense musical journey that started as a young teenager going to shows at the Knitting Factory. He was a founding member of Zs, which he left to start Extra Life. Since disbanding Extra Life Charlie has been busy with Seven Teares and most recently Psalm Zero, who will release their first full-length "The Drain" on March 4th. For this conversation Charlie and I drink waaaaay too much whiskey and get into it, knocking over mic stands, arguing about Death Grips and throwing vaguely antisemitic snaps at one another. This one gets weird...